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FOOD & DRINK

Ten Essential Spots to Visit in Alexandria

This former industrial area is home to OTT croissants, vegan brews and the coolest public library in the city.
By Erina Starkey
July 22, 2019
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Ten Essential Spots to Visit in Alexandria

This former industrial area is home to OTT croissants, vegan brews and the coolest public library in the city.
By Erina Starkey
July 22, 2019
  shares

TEN ESSENTIAL SPOTS TO VISIT IN ALEXANDRIA

in partnership with

This former industrial area is home to OTT croissants, vegan brews and the coolest public library in the city.

The once-industrial area of Alexandria has experienced a revolution in recent years. While many of the old warehouses and factories remain, inside, the machinery has been swapped out for vintage collectables, designer homewares and trendy cafes that pump out smashed avo on toast and single origin espresso to the slow-moving brunch crowds. Then in the evening, the suburb picks up the pace as young professionals and creative types head out to the many neighbourhood wine bars and restaurants to let off steam.

Navigating your way around streets that fluctuate between factory-lined and suburban with little warning can be tricky. But, once you enter this rabbit warren, you'll discover plenty of hidden gems — and that's where we come in. Along with City of Sydney, we've found ten spots that you need to hit when you're in the area. A word of advice: best go on an empty stomach.

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    Sonoma sourdough may be a staple on breakfast menus throughout the city, but if you want to try the bakery’s signature miche loaf, slow fermented baguettes or flaky pastries, you’ll need to head straight to the source. Of the six outposts in the Sonoma family, the Alexandria one remains the most impressive. Set within a converted warehouse, the shopfront boasts high, slanted ceilings and a sleek monochrome fit-out, with shelves stocked with loaves like a gallery for gluten. Sandwiches and toasties aside, you can chew your way through cultured butter croissants and French patisserie items, from sticky cinnamon ‘morning buns’ and kouign-amann to glazed pain au raisin and icing sugar-dusted danishes.

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  • 9

    Mecca was one of the first Sydney cafes to roast its own specialty coffee — and, 14 years later, it’s still going strong. The Alexandria outpost has remained the crème de la crema for those who love a perfectly made espresso or creamy nitro brew. Beans are roasted out back and brewed up front, with a variety of blends to choose from, including the chocolate, honeycomb and orange-flavoured house blend, the tropical Los Eucaliptos and pecan pie-tasting Moonwalker. This isn’t a hole-in-the-wall espresso bar either — the beautifully designed space is home to timber slatted-seating and black wire details, and there’s an all-day brunch menu, too, so you can sip your way through breakfast or lunch.

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  • 8

    There are plenty of reasons why (what feels like) half the city chooses to take their midday meal at the Grounds of Alexandria. Aside from checking out the weekend markets and beautiful sprawling gardens, or paying a visit to Harry Trotter and his barnyard buddies, the food you’ll be served is pretty darn delicious. The most coveted tables are those in The Cafe where you can order the signature granola, health bowls, pasta and sandwiches made on house-baked bread. If you’d rather eat outdoors, opt for The Garden kiosk, which serves woodfired pizzas, burgers and salads. Or, head to The Potting Shed for bistro fare, from scotch fillet slathered with café de Paris butter to the whole grilled snapper in a ginger dashi broth.

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  • 7

    You don’t need a date to book a table at this candlelit restaurant in the backstreets of Alexandria — simply a love of good food and wine will do. Prepare to be delighted by the Italian menu put together by owner and head chef Matteo Margiotta, formerly of Black Star Pastry. While it’s all too easy to get a little carried away with the salumi (think fennel salame and cow’s cheese dipped in nebbiolo wine), make sure you leave enough room for the fresh pasta and one-kilogram dry-aged Fiorentina steak, prepared just as they do in the boot-shaped nation. The wine list is as complex as the wines themselves, with the restaurant offering an encyclopaedic selection of regional Italian drops.

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  • 6

    Marrickville isn’t the only suburb with its own craft breweries. This vegan taproom and brewery, from the same crew behind the Surry Hills’ vegetarian eatery, is housed in a converted warehouse. And it pours flavours inspired by top Aussie personas — twelve on tap and the rest by the tinnie. Options include Norman, a true blue sessionable ale; the ever-popular Amanda Mandarin IPA; an organic maple kolsch named Gretchen; and Seabass, a light, dry Mediterranean lager. For food, the venue offers an assortment of vegan beer snacks including gyros stuffed with grilled eggplant, skordalia and chips, kale and turnip gyozas and dumplings filled with kimchi or taro. If that’s not enough to entice you, the brewery is also dog-friendly and has both board games and late-night live music to keep you entertained.

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  • 5

    Despite the name, there’s nothing textbook about this patisserie’s desserts. The OTT sugary creations by Michelin-starred pastry chef John Ralley regularly cause lines out the door. The specialty is the croissants, which come in a rotating selection of hybrid flavours. On any given day, you may find lamington, dipped in chocolate and coconut, jam and cream cheese-stuffed strawberry cheesecake or Thai milk tea, filled with chewy tapioca pearls. The glass cabinet also holds all kinds of colourful domed desserts — think a glossy gateau coated in a mirror glaze and topped with tweezered discs and flowers.

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  • 4

    Whether you’re hosting a barbecue or planning a steak night at home, this wholesale meat market sells an impressive selection of cuts. Don one of the insulated jackets at the door — the whole warehouse is refrigerated— and browse through the aisles. You’ll find hefty vacuum-sealed packs of wagyu and kobe, plus meat from top Aussie producers like Bindaree Beef, Cape Byron Australian Angus, B.E Campbell’s Bruemar Pork and Cowra Lamb.

    Alongside the usual suspects, it has some pretty phenomenal cuts from Brazilian rump caps to spliced marrow bones and caveman-sized tomahawks. If you need your meat cut a certain way, the on-site butchers are more than happy to carve it up for you. You can score some pretty lean discounts, too.

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  • 3

    If you’re crazy about old things, this collective set within a 3500-metre warehouse sells vintage bric-a-brac, antiques, collectables and knick-knacks from dealers, designers, makers and traders across the city. There’s sure to be something to brighten both your day and your decor, from lime green armchairs to West German pottery. You could also stumble across radios, microscopes, Japanese fans and wooden prosthetic feet — you name it, it’s probably here. The high turnover means that stock is never left to get dusty, so you’re guaranteed to find something new and interesting every time you visit.

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  • 2
    Sydney Park

    When the swathes of concrete turn into far-reaching fields of green, you’ll know you’ve hit Sydney Park, an immense 40-hectare green space on the edge of Alexandria. This neighbourhood park puts all others to shame with its grassy hills, landscaped gardens and picturesque wetlands, which are connected together by meandering pathways. There’s something for all walks of life, with outdoor barbecue facilities, fitness stations, a designated doggy pool and a cricket playing field, where early morning joggers come to do their rounds.

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  • 1

    It might not look like much from the outside, but that’s because this state-of-the-art new library is almost completely underground — proving you should never judge a book by its cover. Inside, there’s more to do than just peruse the shelves. Those with a library card can borrow out old-school gaming consoles like Ataris, Segas and Nintendos, as well as brand new acoustic, electric or bass guitars to jam at home or in the on-site music room. There’s also a baby grand piano if you need accompaniment. But, if you are actually wanting to read a book, you can curl up on one of the brightly coloured lounges or soak up the serenity in the circular sunken garden.

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Top image: Destination NSW.

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